14 responses to “Winter Thought Exercise”

  1. Fluxor

    Chris, if you’re not allowed to use fuel, then what’s powering your furnace? People have wood furnaces that require no electricity to run the fan. The fan is powered from the furnace heat. As for lights, I’m going to go with candles. And the fridge? You did say this is a WINTER exercise, right? I’ll just throw my food outside. Else, you can just gather all the snow from outside and cover it with layers of hay. This can be your ice supply over the summer as well. So if my Diet Coke is getting warm, I’ll scoop a bucket of snow from the outside and plop my can in there.

    As for excess AC power being wasted, if there’s less load on the bike, the bike becomes easier to peddle, so just don’t peddle so damn hard! And really, who’s going to be able to peddle 60 times a second?

    And how do you plan on buying your food? If there’s one thing I learned from Sarah Palin, it’s that deer meat is tasty. So get your hunting knifes ready — Bambi, we’re coming after you!

  2. Cherish The Scientist

    I’ve been contemplating getting solar panels on our house. I have a significant amount of guilt over the amount of gas we use to heat our house, and then we wouldn’t be quite so dependent on the grid.

    I think there’d be a rebellion if we couldn’t use our computers or the Wii, though.

  3. Bill

    If electricity is gone AND I don’t have access to fuel, I’m just going to drain my plumbing and pedal my way to Florida.

  4. FrauTech

    Fluxor- I thought about the food thing too. (My number one priority would be gather up my home defense items, then how do you get fresh water?) But then I live somewhere where fresh water would be a problem, but heat wouldn’t (have a 1960’s wall heater we haven’t used since moving in 3 years ago). But hey, this is a thought exercise about generating power, not a “how would you survive the zombie apocalypse” exercise.

    I think without the internet I’d be pretty screwed for figuring out how to do a lot of this. Makes me want to stock up on build guides and survival guides. However I am reminded of the 14 year old Malawi boy who had dropped out of school and built a windmill for his family from an old physics book written in english that he couldn’t even read from spare and discarded parts around town. People like that make me feel like an imposter engineer, or to quote Dilbert, he’s got The Knack.

    1. Fluxor

      The upside to no Internet is that I wouldn’t be wasting time on Twitter. As for fresh water, no problems here. Just follow this easy instruction: (1) Melt snow.

      For generating power, here’s what I would do. Carry snow to the roof and vent some of the wood furance heat to the roof. The slow stream of melted snow would flow down and power a small turbine to create just enough electricity for me to turn on a ham radio, whereby I will appeal for help.

      Second method: The whole concept in this exercise outlined above implicitly assumes that the furnace is still running; otherwise, why the need for a furnace fan? And if the furnace is still running, it’s running on fuel. And if the fuel is flowing, burn it, put a kettle on it, squeeze the steam over a turbine and voila, electricity. Re-fill with snow when kettle nears empty.

      The last method is to rub your cat on the carpet to generate lots of static. Pick electrons off the cat with chopsticks and place them in a supercapacitor. Repeat until said supercapacitor fills to capacity.

      1. Cherish The Scientist

        Induction is a much quicker process than chopsticks.

      2. FrauTech

        Oh no, I was trying to patent that with my groundbreaking “Methods of Power Generation Using Your Supercapacitor and Your Cat”. It’s like you’ve stolen my brilliant research! Now it’s on the internet, everyone will know! *cries*

        1. Cherish The Scientist

          I wonder if the guys who came up with the “engineers guide to cats” beat you to it…

    2. Chris Gammell

      A friend at work investigated downloading the Wikipedia database to a kindle or similar. I think if it was just a matter of survival (and not protecting the collective knowledge of the human race) you’d be better served with a survival guide like you said.

  5. Dino

    OK first thing I’d do is rip the motor out of my washing machine and rig it up to my 3 speed bike to generate power to charge a 12 volt battery from my car. Next I’d empty the fridge and put the food outside in an ice cooler. (it IS winter, and putting it in the cooler keeps the critters away from it). Since the fridge is now empty, I’d turn it into a wood burning heater/cooking device. Wood can be found all around here in NC where I live. Light would come from LEDs connected to the 12 volt battery from my car. This source could also charge a cell phone. Next problem is water. Where I live water pressure comes from water towers so that could potentially last a while given the stored fuel and back up generators that most municipalities have to power the pumps to get it up there. During that time I’d be stockpiling water and seeking out a natural source where I could fill up containers. Last, one can always go poop in the woods so the toilet is no longer a concern. :)

    1. Fluxor

      Don’t let your poop go to waste. Use it to power your makeshift heater/cooking device.

  6. Dino

    Great idea Fluxor.
    After some more thought, I realized that the motor I really meant to use for the generator would come from the washing machine. Much easier to use since the fridge has a sealed compressor.

  7. Dino

    OOPS I DID state that I’d use the washer motor! HA! The coffee hasn’t kicked it yet!

  8. Alex

    If you’re near a river, consider using the washing machine motor for a water wheel generator. People did this in Gorazde during the Bosnian war – the city was besieged but they couldn’t turn off the river, so they built rafts with a water wheel at the stern end and streamed them from bridges.